Aaron Novik
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Aaron Novik

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Metal Cabaret


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Thorny Brocky at the Red Poppy Art House"

The Red Poppy Art House is a funky little nonprofit space hidden in a corner of San Francisco’s Mission District. With scraps of fabric hanging from the ceiling, empty canvas frames suspended in one corner and a provocative slave ship diagram filling the walls, the room certainly has an arty feel. But it’s also a friendly, community-oriented place with sliding-scale admission, an all-volunteer staff and a reputation for booking innovative artists who challenge musical boundaries.

That description sums up bass clarinetist Aaron Novik nicely. Tossing unlikely musical elements into a compelling modern-jazz stew, Novik’s new sextet Thorny Brocky packed the house to overflowing on Saturday night and filled the humid air with richly varied, unfailingly gripping sounds.

Novik’s compositions often feature drifting melodies and thick, dissonant harmonies atop a low, catchy bass pulse. His intricate arrangements favor spiraling, fugue-like buildups and abrupt endings, while Thorny Brocky’s unusual palette of bass clarinet, alto sax, violin, accordion, bass and drums allows for an ever-shifting set of overlapping textures. At any given moment, the violin may double the bass or sax line, or clarinet and accordion might tangle in a tightly wound dance. Novik revels in diverse influences — from Jewish and Balkan folk music to Scandinavian heavy metal and underground animation — but the real distinctiveness of this group comes from a bold sense of rhythm, as they mix up beats in deliciously complex syncopations.

Playing most of the first set without violinist Dina Maccabee, the band explored moody, blossoming grooves. Drummer Jamie Moore distinguished himself early and often with a staccato bob and weave style, sketching the outlines of the rhythms rather than attacking them directly. Novik’s solo on “Soul of a House” was full of little downward cascades that fought against a rising central line, while bassist Lisa Mezzacappa deconstructed the tune’s melody, calmly turning it on its head. Guest vocalist Melody Ferris added a touch of the surreal with floating renditions of verses culled from local “outsider poets,” such as “Goodbye to Bird” — that’s a street pigeon, not Charlie Parker — and the brief but witty “Walking Home from Therapy.”

But it was later, with the full sextet in place, that the band really began to open up, revealing an expansive ensemble sound that constantly reinvented itself. Maccabee’s moaning, melancholy solos and tight interplay with her band mates gave the music greater flow and depth. Marie Abe’s angular, cagey accordion work was loaded with long, sliding tones and winking phrases, at times giving way to slashing rants. And saxophonist Kasey Knudsen kept things edgy and percolating, often working quietly, just beneath the surface.

Early in the evening, Novik described Thorny Brocky as “a cover band of all my old groups,” since most of their repertoire predates the band by several years. But Thorny Brocky already has its own sound: bold, surprising and deeply satisfying. This is a band to watch. - The Jazz Observer

"Bandwidth: Thorny Brocky"

Aaron Novik is a multifaceted experimental composer who plays the clarinet and bass clarinet. Novik usually has multiple projects going on at once, sometimes with one springing up from another. In each band, he explores varying concepts, such as his band Crafty Apples, which makes music for experimental animations by artist Mark Wilson. Thorny Brocky, an offshoot of Crafty Apples, fuses jazz, klezmer, Indian and Balkan music, pop, rock and metal that Novik hopes inspires listeners to create animations in their minds as they experience the performance. Novik says, "I feel the musicians (in Thorny Brocky) create the sounds I hear in my head, and I am eternally grateful to them. They are all good friends of mine, great musicians, they know what I want, and forgive so much!" For his next release, Novik is working with Mission "outsider" poets, setting librettos to words written by local homeless, mentally ill or developmentally disabled poets.

Line-up: Aaron Novik, composer, bass clarinet; Dina Maccabee, violin; Lisa Mezzacappa, bass; Marié Abe, accordion; Jamie Moore, drums; Kasey Knudsen, alto sax; Melody Ferris, vocals.

1. How did you name your band? What does it mean?

Aaron Novik: I started collecting spam e-mails with interesting sounding sender names, which were all made up of course - Who comes up with these bizarre names? Thorny Brocky? Bobu Rexazobe? I also started making comic book characters based on these bizarre names.

2. Which musician(s) do you admire?

Sun Ra, Deerhoof, Gilberto Gil, Meshuggah, Eyvind Kang.

3. What three words would you use to describe your own music?

Original, experimental, accessible.

4. How have your feelings about music changed since you were a child?

I think what I listen to has changed, but I don't feel why I like the music that I like has changed since I was young. As a child, my ears always perked up whenever I heard something new; some conventional idea turned on its head. I think of my music as songs made entirely of those moments.

5. Who or what has been the most important non musical influence for you as an artist?

Probably Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi writer, who likes to make the reader feel unsteady as to what is really going on at all times. Why pay attention if you know what is going to happen next?

Check them out: www.myspace.com/aaronnovik, www.virb.com/aaronnovik.

Next gig: 8 p.m. Sat. $15. Red Poppy Art House, 2698 Folsom St., S.F. (415) 826-2402. www.redpoppyarthouse.org.

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.us/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/03/NSN319EPMV.DTL#ixzz0W4hqauUV
- SF Gate


Gubbish- Notations in Tonations
Kipple- Flashes of Irrational Happiness
Aaron Novik- the Samuel Suite/ Dancing into One
Simulacra- Simulacra



Aaron Novik has been living and performing in the bay area for almost 12 years. His bands have included Gubbish, Kipple, Floating World, Crafty Apples, Love Triangle Elementary School, and most recently Thorny Brocky.